Iola rides momentum into class four state tournament

The Mustangs make their first state tournament appearance since 2018 when they won it all

IOLA, Mo. – The Iola Mustangs are headed to the class four state tournament. It’s their first state tournament appearance since 2018 when they won it all.

“We’re all really excited. I’m proud of the boys,” says head coach Ryan Latta. “Class 4A is very tough and we competed and had a good regional and hopefully we go out there and make some noise. I told the boys we’re not going out for just one game. We want to make a deep run at state.”

Iola is the four seed for the tournament. They will face Ottawa, the five seed, in the quarterfinals on Thursday.

“Ottawa plays in a really good league,” Latta says. “I know they have a shortstop that is a really good ball player. One through nine I’m sure they’ll all be able to put the ball in play, so we’ve got to be sound defensively. I know our pitcher is going to be in the zone, so we just have to make plays behind him and not beat ourselves. We need to show up ready to go. Hopefully we can, from the get go, bring some of the energy that we had in the regional.”

The Mustangs enter the tournament with momentum. They’re coming off a regional title against the defending class 3 state champs.

‘I think we’re definitely feeling good about those two games,” Latta says. “It’s how you want to play leading into the state tournament. They were clean games on our end. We fielded the ball probably the best we have fielded all season in those two games combined. Offensively, we came out and put together good at bats and our pitching was pretty solid. I’d say it starts with our three lefties that we have. They’re all hitting over .450 for us. Our leadoff Jarrett Herrmann and our leftfielder Brandon McKarnin and our first baseman/designated hitter Ryker Curry. Then we have a lot of our right handed sticks that are stepping up. A few of them are hitting in the mid .300’s so it’s balancing out nice. Korbin Cloud who has taken over the ace role for us did a great job in regionals. He pitched in both games and he was getting both pitches over for strikes and dong a really good job.”

A fast start will be important piece to the Mustangs success in the state tournament.

“I’ve seen a lot of good energy and showing up ready to play, which is huge,” Latta says. “In both of our regional games we’ve come out in the first couple innings and struck first. It gets the momentum going our way. Hopefully we can continue to do that.”

Iola and Ottawa hit the field at 1:15 pm on Thursday.